If you have to give up caffeine, but coffee is just too good to let go, there is an alternative - decaf coffee!
In theory, decaf coffee should provide you with the same alluring taste and aroma minus the downfalls of caffeine, but is it really so?
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
It is actually very hard to find a cup of decaffeinated coffee that will be able to fool you for at least one moment and make you think that it is the real thing.
After all, not every regular brew coffee tastes satisfying either. Some types and brands are way superior to others, and so is the case with the decaf coffee too.
This is where I step in. I have drunk my way through the most popular brands and found you the best decaf coffee currently available on the market.
Are you eager to try it too? Read on and find out more!
Table Of Contents
- What is Decaf Coffee?
- What Changed?
- What Are the Decaffeinating Methods Used Now?
- The Best Decaffeinating Method
- How to Prepare the Best Decaf Coffee?
- Is Decaff Coffee Good for You?
- The Best Decaf Coffee for the Money: 3 Top Choices You Could Make
- My Final Thoughts
What is Decaf Coffee?
Before we move on to talk about the best decaffeinated cup of coffee you can come by, we should honor this nectar of the gods by learning a little bit about it!
Decaf coffee has at least 97% less caffeine than the same regular coffee. Decaffeinating coffee has a long history as the practice began in the early 1900's.
At first, decaf coffee tasted rather bland and gave a bad aftertaste. In this way, it earned itself some bad reputation, but modern decaffeinating methods greatly improved and you can now enjoy a cup of decaf that will satisfy even the most extreme coffee enthusiasts.
The original decaffeinating process was exclusively done by the use of chemicals. Besides, the earliest decaf coffees were only “low-caffeine.” As a result, the coffee was lacking flavor but still had a significant amount of caffeine. There was simply no point in having it.
Luckily, the process of decaffeination has significantly improved and modernized over the years, and the decaf coffee nowadays can rival some of the top-notch regular roasts on the market.
What Are the Decaffeinating Methods Used Now?
There are multiple methods of decaffeinating available today, each with its ins and outs. As an educated coffee enthusiast who’s into decaffeinating, you should know about them. Learning about the methods will get you to select the one that suits best easier.
1. The Direct Method
The direct method includes:
This process includes the use of chemicals, and you are troubled by this fact, am I right?
The good news is that the Methylene Chloride, which is most often used as the solvent, does not represent a health risk. Why?
Well, the minute traces of this chemical will completely evaporate during the roasting process. The FDA has never found any traces of this chemical in any green coffee tested so far.
2. The Water Method
This method goes through the following steps:
The idea behind this process is to return all the flavor components back into the coffee beans. Unfortunately, a lot is lost.
Washed out taste not worth the trouble.
3. The Swiss Water Method
Finally, this method is chemical free! The process goes through the following phases:
Once again a bit wishy-washy taste.
Any other problem?
Swiss Water Process decaf coffee costs more since this method destroys the caffeine and thus prevents the manufacturers to resell it to pharmaceutical companies.
However, the fact that this method is chemical free and environment-friendly is a BIG plus. This is actually the only method used for the production of the organic decaf coffee.
4. The CO2 Method
In my humble opinion, this is the best method developed so far. How so?
Well, there is no soaking! The flavors stay locked inside the beans as all the precious oils are preserved.
The method is as follows:
I will just say that one sip will be enough for you to sense the benefits of this unique solvent-free method
The Best Decaffeinating Method
As you can see, I am rooting for the CO2 method.
However, most decaf coffee on the market today has been produced by using one of the solvent-based methods. I am not fully aware of why this is the case, but I have a feeling that it has something to do with the cost of production.
So if I have to choose among solvent-based techniques, I wholeheartedly vote for the Swiss Water Process method.
Extra Info: Decaf coffee is never 100% free of caffeine. There can be as much as 3% caffeine left or as little as 0,1%, but if you have 0% tolerance to caffeine you must remember this and avoid decaf coffee as well!
How to Prepare the Best Decaf Coffee?
The decaf coffee you choose to buy has to be produced by a reputable roasting company that buys the highest-quality decaffeinated coffee beans available. It should be purchased as the whole bean and as fresh as possible.
Once you find your favorite brand of coffee, you should also:
- 1Store it appropriately - keep it in a dry and cool place, but most importantly in an airtight container that will keep it fresh for longer and preserve its flavor.
- 2Grind it properly - invest in a high-quality grinder as that will influence the final taste and texture of your decaf coffee greatly. Always grind the decaf beans on fine or medium. Make sure that you use your grinder ONLY for decaf coffee, or otherwise you risk drinking the caffeine from the previously ground regular coffee.
- 3Brew it properly - Finally, you have reached the final and easiest step. Decide what type of coffee you are up to- an Espresso, a Latte, or perhaps a creamy Cappuccino. Of course, use high-quality coffee maker if possible, and follow the instructions and measurements to the letter (if the coffee comes out too weak or too strong, adjust them later on).
If you have done everything right, the taste will be intense and rich!
Extra info: Most decaf coffee on the market today is produced using Arabica beans as they have naturally low caffeine content.
Is Decaff Coffee Good for You?
Most people consider coffee to be their wake-up drink. A cup of coffee provides them with extra energy needed to get through the day.
However, not all of us are as lucky - some people suffer from headaches, shaking or excessive sweating all due to caffeine. For them,decaf coffee provides an opportunity to enjoy the taste they have become accustomed to without suffering any dire consequences.
There are few other benefits of drinking decaffeinated coffee:
The Best Decaf Coffee for the Money: 3 Top Choices You Could Make
Now that we’ve learned about decaf coffee and everything that goes into making this beverage, it’s time to utilize this newfound knowledge to reap the benefits. The market is stuffed with brands and products, and now let’s review and compare the best three.
Eight O'Clock Whole Bean Decaf Coffee
Eight O’clock decaf coffee seems to have been around for ages; it has a very long tradition here in the USA. It is easy to find and reasonably priced, and that only adds to its popularity.
It is by no means at the top of the spectrum when it comes to origin or quality, but the taste is there, and everyday users are searching for exactly that- good flavor at the even better price!
If you prefer organic, environmentally friendly coffee beans, this is not your brand. It is decaffeinated via the direct method, and that means chemicals (in this case methylene chloride) were used in the process.
On the bright side, Eight o’clock is 100% Arabica. It is a brand you can trust, and there is no need to break your wallet when you crave for a cup of medium-roast, flavorful decaf coffee.
The taste is more than satisfying- there is no bitterness or aftertaste. Quite oppositely, it is smooth, rich and aromatic.
Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Gourmet Decaf Coffee
Cafe Don Pablo decaf coffee is a true Colombian brand. It is made from Colombian Supremo beans. 100% Arabica, of course.
This coffee is not mass-produced like the Eight O’clock decaf coffee, but rather roasted in small batches just before it is packaged and shipped off. Therefore, it is fresh by default.
Don Pablo coffee is decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Method. There are no chemicals used. It is all-natural but not organic.
When it comes to taste and aroma, Don Pablo shines like a bright star in the dark decaf sky! It is by no means acid or bitter like most low-caf brands.
The taste is complex and flavorsome and features natural cocoa and caramel notes. You can even sense a hint of citrus! It will complement most desserts and pastries.
If you are a true medium roast aficionado, you are sure to feel a bit disappointed as Cafe Don Pablo tastes more like a dark roast. If you do not mind that, you are up for a smooth blend well worth trying.
Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee
If you want an organic decaf coffee, Kicking Horse is a great choice! Especially if you are a dark roasted coffee devotee as well
You can probably guess that the Kicking Horse is decaffeinated using the Swiss Water method, as that is an only choice for organic brands.
This truly rich coffee comes from Central and South America and is 100% fairtrade. The company really pays attention to the well-being of all those involved in the process of production- including our planet!
As a true dark roast blend, Kicking horse decaf coffee features a hint of bitterness and burnt aroma. Although this is minimal, the medium roast followers are sure to sense it and despise it.
This coffee is made for true dark roast admirers that will appreciate the depth and complexity of its flavor. It is rich and seductively aromatic with a mellow finish.
Although the taste will somewhat depend on the brewing method you choose; some aromas seem to dominate in most scenarios- that of hazelnuts and chocolate.
One of the best dark roast blends with low caffeine content, if you can pay the price!
The downfalls? Oily beans that can jeopardize your expensive coffee machines and grinders!
My Final Thoughts
I hope that I have succeeded in proving my point- you can find a decaf coffee with an equally rich and satisfying taste and aroma of its regular counterpart.It is not mission impossible as some deem it!
If I had to choose only one brand and name it the best decaf coffee, I give my vote to the Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Gourmet Decaf Coffee .My heart always skips a bit when I take the first sip of this creamy delight
It is not only a perfect combination of quality beans and artisan roasting, but it is also easy to come by, always fresh and reasonably priced. It is neither medium nor dark- it rather appeals to all true coffee aficionados.
What is the only thing that could make it better?
If someone would serve it to me right now! Do you agree? I would really appreciate your opinions and comments!
FURTHER READING: Best Kona Coffee Brands for the Money